The other point is that you cannot count on knowing what calculations the other side is making. If you had put the choices Germany faced in front of almost any American citizen, they would probably have turned back at Poland. Certainly, they wouldn't have declared war on the USSR. Yet Hitler clearly didn't feel that way. Betting the farm on his "rationality" by, say, declaring war on Russia, would have crushed us.
So that's why I'm suspicious of upper-middle class professionals who say "Saddaam is rational, therefore he will choose to do X if we do Y". And you know this because of your extensive experience as an Iraqi dictator? His operating environment is different from yours. You do not know what he is thinking. So it is fundamentally dangerous to assume that you can predict how he will act.
Counting on a brutal deluded dictator's rationality to restrain him does not seem prudent. When Saddam's ex-mistress described how upset Saddam was to lose Kuwait and how much he didn't expect to lose it that struck me as a strong warning that we can't expect him to do things that make sense according to our reckoning of what choices are sensible.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2002 September 19 02:15 PM US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment|